2013 in Review

Looking back at everything I’ve done in the past year, makes me realize how lucky I am.  My year has been filled with lots of life!

Exercise always plays a big part.  Not only hiking…

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Top of the Rock

My three-day exploration of New York City ended with a trip to the “Top of the Rock” aka 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  If you remember Molly, she accompanied me and we waited in line to buy our $27 ticket to the top.  I wanted to see the views before dusk and at sunset, so we timed it just right and were at the top for about 30 minutes.

This is my final shot before taking the elevator down 70 floors to the bottom.  You can see the Empire State Building

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Bicycling Through Central Park

I highly recommend taking a guided bicycle tour of Central Park!  There are lots of companies to choose from and I chose a company called Must See Central Park for a 2 hour $45 tour.  The tour ended up taking 2 1/2 hours because the tour guide was very laid back.  There were four others on the tour, not including the guide, which made it nice to be able to stop and take photographs a little more often.  The guide informed us that there are 15 entrances to Central Park and it’s 1.5 miles long, with a 6 mile circumference.

A few other tid bits of info…the Park encompasses 6% of Manhattan; 38 million people visit the Park per year ( I wonder how they know?); there are 21 playgrounds; 24,000 trees; 9,000 benches; and the Park closes at 1am and reopens at 6am.

We saw the Conservatory Water Pond where you can rent a sailboat…

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Walking Across Brooklyn Bridge

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge seems to be a touristy thing to do.  I questioned a number of native New Yorker’s about the experience, and none of them had ever done it!  I had read that walking from the Brooklyn side to Manhattan was the best way to appreciate it, so I took the subway from Brooklyn into Manhattan, transferred to a train back into Brooklyn to High Street, where you find the entrance to the Bridge.  You can either use Google Maps and click on the train/subway emblem for the appropriate subways/times or go to the MTA site.   It’s only a mile across and the views are absolutely breathtaking!

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First Look at Central Park

Central Park holds a certain mystique for those who have never taken a stroll along one of its many lovely paths.  New York City was never on my list of “must visit” destinations, but I have to confess that I was pleasantly surprised.  I felt the same way about Rome.  Before visiting, I envisioned it to be somewhat dirty and more touristy than it was.  Anyway, back to Central Park…after exploring the Rockefeller Center area on my second day in New York City, I had enough time and energy left before heading back to my Couchsurfing host’s home to walk 9 blocks uptown to see for myself what Central Park was like.

What’s not to love about views like this…

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Rockefeller Center in Spring

Rockefeller Center in the Spring is beautiful!  My second day in New York City started with a view of the One World Trade Center, followed by a walk through Little Italy and Chinatown and then a quick subway ride to Rockefeller Center.  I stopped a man in a business suit and asked him what there was to see in the area.  He told me about this area behind the Center with beautiful tulips and fountains.

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Little Italy and Chinatown

All of the information I’ve read about New York City or heard from others recommended taking a stroll through the areas known as Little Italy and Chinatown, so for my second day in the City, I included this in the itinerary!  I had good weather Karma with me…the sky was blue and the temperature in the 60’s.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember I started my day with a view of the almost completed One World Trade Center.  You can read about it here.

When I first saw Little Italy, I thought it was very colorful and there were workers in front of their respective restaurants trying to tempt passerby’s with their menus.

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Luckily, I turned around and saw this amazing street art on one of the buildings!  Is it a miniature “Hulk”?

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On the Way to the One World Trade Center aka Freedom Tower

My second day in New York City began with a train ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan on the D line, exiting near City Hall, with a loose itinerary of walking to the One World Trade Center — Little Italy — Chinatown — then taking a train up to Rockefeller CenterSt. Patrick’s CathedralCentral Park.

This is what I saw on the way to the One World Trade Center.  Flower pots overflowing with beautiful tulips and a small cafe…

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Bryant Park and New York City Public Library

Bryant Park which is located behind the New York City Public Library is my favorite urban park within New York City!  Although it had started lightly raining while I was exploring the area a couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed taking a few photos of the area…

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Molly took me to Gantry State Park

Meet Molly!  She’s a fellow travel blogger and had recently moved back to New York City after returning from a year of traveling the world with her husband.  You can read more about her here!

She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Very generous, sweet, intelligent and pretty (inside and out)!

We originally connected online when she gave me some advice for my 35 day overland truck adventure through six countries in Africa based on her own experiences.  My first day in New York, I took the train from the Times Square area over to Long Island City (In Queens across from Manhattan) so that we could meet, and she took me to Gantry State Park and her apartment, which is located nearby.

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New York City Times Square

After coming out from the Subway, I started walking towards Times Square and didn’t really know what to expect.  I knew there would be lots of lights, people and action.  I thought it was one area…like a square…but as I approached the area…I realized it encompassed a few blocks.

Although I’ve been to Las Vegas…initially I was like…”Wow”!  So many things to look at!

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The High Line in New York City

The High Line is a 1-mile linear park built on a section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad.  It runs from near 14th Street up to 30th Street.  The first section was opened in 2009 and the second in 2011.  After visiting Chelsea Market, I walked outside to the steps that took me to the park.  What a great idea for a park!

There are lots of cool creative pieces of art along the walk.  I’m not sure what those wooden posts sticking up in the Hudson River are…

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Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market in New York City not only has lots of restaurants and shops, it’s also a great place to take photographs.  Natural light flows through the high windows and the old brick is really nice.

I had three daily itineraries for my time in New York City and I chose this one… Greenwich Village (yesterday’s post) — Chelsea Market — Highline Park – Times Square – N.Y. Public Library – Bryant Park – Grand Central Station.  I also went to Gantry State Park in Queens to meet a fellow blogger (that will be a future post).  So my first day I was in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens!

I walked most everywhere (except to Queens) and have holes in my boots and had a blister on my foot to prove it!

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Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village in New York City is very similar to what I had envisioned through the years it might be like.  Artsy and colorful with beautiful old buildings!

Having arrived in the City the night before, with only four days to explore, I got an early start the following morning walking the 3/4th of a mile to the train, from the home of my Couchsurfing hostess–Maria and her parents–in Brooklyn.  The train ride into Manhattan took anywhere from 35 – 50 minutes, depending on where I was headed, and if I needed to transfer trains.  My experience taking trains in Europe was good practice for the subway here.

I had purchased a book about New York City and tore out the walking tours to have some type of map and plan.  Even with the map, the streets in Greenwich are a bit confusing, because they wind around and connect here and there.  As you can see, It was an overcast day.

This grouping of sculptures is very creative.  I like that they’re devoid of color, except for the one pair of tennis shoes.

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Couchsurfing New York City and Salsa Dancing

After my 2-day whirlwind walking tour of Philadelphia, it was time to catch a $10 Boltbus to New York City!  Upon my arrival, I knew to take the N train from Penn Station and what stop to get off of, but I didn’t even have the address of my Couchsurfing host…Maria.  She was picking me up at the train station at 9:00pm, so I had to have faith and trust.  It was a short drive to her family’s home in Brooklyn, where she is staying temporarily.  They are Italian and although her father is a Chef, her mother made some outstanding meals!  And she has a to-die-for Cappuccino maker!

I did most everything on my own in New York, but one evening, Maria and I went out Salsa dancing and to a neighborhood bar.  This is Maria…

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